‘Once & Future #20:’ Advance Comic Book Review

Quick recap: While the gang was concerned with surviving being cast into the story, Arthur came face to face with possibly his most hated foe yet: himself. Yeah, things got really wacky…

It would appear that Arthur’s claim to the land is not unchallenged. Enter the more modern version of him, the Arthur of the Norman tradition. While the Brittonic Arthur has hold over the land and can command it to his will, his Norman counterpart has a secret weapon: the legendary Lancelot. Yes, the same Lancelot that whelped Mary’s Galahad, thus showing just how muddled the Arthurian legends are. Meanwhile, the gang has relocated the survivors of Bridgette’s retirement home to the Grail Castle, where they reason that Arthur’s grasp falls short. With Rose’s family in Bath, it’s off to the ancient city (with much apprehension and chagrin from Bridgette) to collect them. Given the city’s Roman past and association with the goddess Minerva (or Athena, in the Greek tradition), it’s no wonder that the gang is about to run into some older stories here.

Just when I thought that the story was definitely zigging, lo and behold, Kieron Gillen throws a whole lotta zag into this tale, and it’s truly mind-boggling how this man’s creativity works. The way that these seemingly disparate story threads come together in such a crazy mash-up is truly nuts, in the best possible way. Gillen’s skill with gonzo storytelling actually exemplifies why #StoriesMatter. The main draw here, at least for my personal taste, is that Gillen has shown us that even sacred cow stories can be new and exciting again when they’re used as a lens to examine our current state of affairs. Gillen somehow manages to walk that fine line between being edgy and just total bastardization, and that’s a testament to his deep knowledge of these stories. It’s very interesting that Gillen is pitting the different Arthurs of different narrative traditions here, because I think it highlights just how much stories can evolve.

Dan Mora’s artwork hits so many high points for me. The character design of our main cast is recognizable even from their silhouettes. He also just gives this book such epic scale, always pushing the envelope to the verge of incredulity. His character work speaks volumes, even without the text. Finally, the monster design always feel original and fresh, despite being tied to canon. Tamra Bonvillain’s colors are particularly gorgeous in this issue. From the dusty pinks and salmon hues of the skies to the usage of complementary colors to heighten the tension of battles, it’s all beautiful. Last, but not least, Ed Dukeshire’s lettering is once again such a key component of giving this book its unique feel and vibe.

Overall, this arc seems to get bigger and bigger in scope, and the team keeps the focus where it needs to be. Things are getting really wild, and while I feel like I say that a lot about this series, I mean it in the most superlative way each time.   


Creative Team: Kieron Gillen (writer), Dan Mora (artist), Tamra Bonvillain (colorist), Ed Dukeshire (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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